Although described on the title as a second edition, this is in fact an ENTIRELY RE-ENGRAVED WORK. John Cary (1755-1835) and descendants were possibly the most prolific publishers of cartography around the turn of the nineteenth century. Cary is noted for the clarity of detail in his maps and was the first to use the Greenwich meridian. Cary was born in Warminster in 1755 to a prominent family. At fifteen he was apprenticed to the engraver William Palmer and made free in 1778. His very earliest works were engravings for, or publications in partnership with others. Many of these suffered bankruptcy or other ill fortune. Undeterred he opened his own premises at 188 Strand taking over from the bookseller Samuel Hooper. His first sole publication was a very rare road book displaying the route from London to Falmouth published in 1784.
At this point in time no fresh county atlases had been issued since the ‘Large English Atlas’ of the 1750s. Since then, many counties had undergone fresh large-scale survey’s, a number of which had been published. Having worked already on books to do with roads and canals, Cary could see the rapidly transforming landscape and its use by the general public. The huge increase in the number of Turnpikes towards the end of the eighteenth century helped to ensure comfortable and relatively safe travel across the country.
This work was first published as a separately issued wall map in eighty-one sheets in 1792. An example of it is found in the British Library (Maps *1130.2). Although strictly a wall map, it is best known through its publication in 1794 as an atlas with all eighty-one sheets bound in. The whole measures approximately 1775 x 2235 mm. and is drawn on a scale of 5 miles to the inch. It is also widely recognised as the first English atlas to be published using Greenwich as the Prime Meridian. This was agreed world-wide at an international conference in Washington in 1884. Some individual maps had been published prior to 1794 using Greenwich, but none of the whole country.
This is an example of the ‘second edition but is in fact newly engraved. Cary’s ‘New Itinerary’ of 1817 included an advert which stated ‘Just published, from an entire new Set of Plates, with material Alterations & Improvements, the Second Edition of Cary’s Large Map of England & Wales … Price, in Boards, with the Index, £3. 13s. 6d’. It extends as far north as Edinburgh and gives extensive detail of the country at the time. Each sheet includes in the border a small square illustrating the numbers of the adjoining sheets for easy reference. The title, dedication, explanation and scale bound at the beginning form sheets 80, 71, 72 and 63 accordingly. All are to be found in the upper right of the whole. Sheet 62 had been the index map but presumable to offer a better scale a new double page map is included here.
This example also includes the List of Places in 101 pages, expanded from the earlier 88. The final leaf contains a catalogue of material available. Listed is William Smith’s landmark geological map of the Strata of England and Wales first offered the year before. Provenance: Clive A. Burden Ltd. Catalogue 3 (2009) item 29; Adrian Almond collection; Dominic Winter auction 19 September 2012 lot 53; private English collection. Fordham (1925) pp. 44-7; Smith, D. (1988); Worms & Baynton-Williams (2011).